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Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

which they ascribed to others, arguments in their own defence." And
the communique went on to mention numerous German crimes which
had been perpetrated against the Polish prisoners-of-war, such as shooting
many of them for " political offences alleged to have been committed
b efore the war."
Among the massacred men were identified the bodies of officers who
had been on the retired list long before the war, men who were between
sixty and seventy, even eighty, years of age. According to the explanation
given out by the Soviets.* all of these men,, including twelve generals and
three hundred colonels, had been employed on fortification works. The
German and European Press published many photographs of documents
taken from the bodies of these men, and after the members of the Polish
Red Cross had investigated the open grave, all doubts disappeared. The
Germans, basing their facts on dated papers found on the bodies, stated
that the murder had been perpetrated in April, 1940, therefore approxi-
mately about the time when the families of the murdered men had
received their last news from them.
There were certain discrepancies in the details given out by the Germans
and, still vigorously denying these accusations, Soviet propaganda was
not slow in pointing these out and ridiculing the German statements.
When the Soviet armies later re-occupied Smolensk in September, 1943,
Moscow (according to her statement of January, 1944) set up a special
commission to investigate the Katyn murder. This commission "for
ascertaining and investigating the circumstances of the shooting of the
Polish officer prisoners by the German-Fascist invaders in the Katyn
forest" was exclusively composed of Russians. The only time the
Soviets permitted any Poles on the scene of this massacre was when Polish
soldiers from the units formed by the Soviets, composed the guard-of-
honour at the re-burial of these officers. The Commission found the
details reported by the Germans to have been entirely true, and on
January 27,1944, published its report, differing from the German descrip-
tion only on one point—it concluded that the crime had been committed
in the autumn of 1941, not in the April of 1940, therefore, after the occu-
pation of Smolensk by the Germans. The report stated:—
cc The Commission has verified and established on the spot that the
graves of the Poles shot by the Germans are situated ten miles from Smolensk
along the highway to Vitebsk, in the area of Katyn forest called Kozie Gory*
More than 11,000 corpses were discovered in the graves clothed ia Polish
military uniforms. The coroners made a detailed examination, of the
exhumed corpses and of those documents and material evidence which had
been found on the corpses and the graves. At the same time the Commission
conducted an interrogation of numerous witnesses among the local popula-
tion whose evidence established conclusively the time and circumstances
of the crimes committed by the German invaders."
The conclusionis of the Commission were stated to be as follows :—
*c The Polish prisoners-of-war were shot by the Germans, not only at
Katyn but at the other places. The object was (1) to wipe out enemies;
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